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Drug Courts

February 17, 2015 Comments off

Drug Courts (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

Drug courts are specialized court docket programs that target criminal defendants and offenders, juvenile offenders, and parents with pending child welfare cases who have alcohol and other drug dependency problems. Although drug courts vary in target populations and resources, programs are generally managed by a multidisciplinary team including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, community corrections, social workers and treatment service professionals. Support from stakeholders representing law enforcement, the family and the community is encouraged throu

Alzheimer’s Aware: A Guide for Implementing a Law Enforcement Program to Address Alzheimer’s in the Community

February 10, 2015 Comments off

Alzheimer’s Aware: A Guide for Implementing a Law Enforcement Program to Address Alzheimer’s in the Community (PDF)
Source: Bureau of Justice Assistance

As the nation’s population continues to age, there will be more cases of Alzheimer’s disease and therefore, more and more opportunities where those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia may come in contact with local law enforcement and public safety officials.

Law enforcement could become involved with individuals with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers under a variety of every‐day circumstances. Below are a few examples of behaviors or situations that could get the attention of law enforcement:

  • Exhibiting erratic driving or breaking general rules of the road
  • Crossing a road way or walking through traffic seemingly unaware of the danger
  • Wandering with a dazed/lost like appearance
  • Sitting in a car along the side of the road (perhaps the car is out of gas)
  • Being out of place in a particular situation (on a hiking trail/park late at night)
  • Inappropriately dressed for the situation or weather (not wearing a coat in winter, or inappropriately barefoot)
  • A call to police regarding missing items or a “break‐in”
  • Inability to follow or understand simple requests (May I see your driver’s license and car registration, please?)
  • Difficulty interacting appropriately with others
  • A domestic violence or physical abuse call that turns out to be a situation with a caregiver and an individual with Alzheimer’s disease
  • A shop‐lifting accusation, “stealing” from local businesses but actually believing they paid for the item or that the item is already theirs
  • Responding to a call for a welfare check and having concerns about abuse, neglect or domestic violence, based on observations

Whatever the situation, it can be difficult for an officer to know what to do, and how to address the problem, and, as the world’s population ages, these types of situations will only increase in frequency and will impact all law enforcement agencies at some point or another. Many law enforcement agencies across the nation are already working to increase positive outcomes when someone with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia is reported missing, or when an officer encounters someone with Alzheimer’s, or a caregiver, during the normal course of their duties, through specialized trainings, resources and policy development which may include:

  • Recognizing the signs of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Learning best practices in approaching and communicating with persons who have Alzheimer’s
  • Being aware of situations where an officer might encounter individuals with Alzheimer’s and effective ways to respond during those interactions
  • Insights and best practices in conducting searches for missing persons with Alzheimer’s – which is different than the manner one would plan or conduct a search for other missing persons

Ransomware on the Rise; FBI and Partners Working to Combat This Cyber Threat

February 6, 2015 Comments off

Ransomware on the Rise; FBI and Partners Working to Combat This Cyber Threat
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Your computer screen freezes with a pop-up message—supposedly from the FBI or another federal agency—saying that because you violated some sort of federal law your computer will remain locked until you pay a fine. Or you get a pop-up message telling you that your personal files have been encrypted and you have to pay to get the key needed decrypt them.

These scenarios are examples of ransomware scams, which involve a type of malware that infects computers and restricts users’ access to their files or threatens the permanent destruction of their information unless a ransom—anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars—is paid.

Research on Body-Worn Cameras and Law Enforcement

February 3, 2015 Comments off

Research on Body-Worn Cameras and Law Enforcement
Source: National Institute of Justice

In a sample of police departments surveyed in 2013, approximately 75 percent of them reported that they did not use body-worn cameras. The survey was funded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).[1]

PERF’s report about the survey notes a number of perceived benefits for using body-worn cameras, including better evidence documentation and increased accountability and transparency.[2] But the report also notes many other factors that law enforcement executives must consider, such as privacy issues, officer and community concerns, data retention and public disclosure policies, and financial considerations.[3] The costs of implementing body-worn cameras include not only the cost of the cameras, but also of any ancillary equipment (e.g., tablets that let officers tag data in the field), data storage and management, training, administration, and disclosure.[4]

Social Media: Legal Challenges and Pitfalls for Law Enforcement Agencies

February 2, 2015 Comments off

Social Media: Legal Challenges and Pitfalls for Law Enforcement Agencies
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Current statistics regarding individuals’ use of social media are staggering. According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s (IACP) Center for Social Media website, Facebook users share approximately 684,478 pieces of content every minute, and the average user creates 90 pieces of content each month, including links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, and videos. Each day 1 million accounts are added to Twitter, and Instagram records approximately a billion “likes” for material posted on the site.

Given the thorough integration of social media into peoples’ lives and the ease with which users instantly share their thoughts, opinions, and “status” with family, friends, and strangers, not surprisingly, some users will post items that other people may find inappropriate. This becomes particularly problematic when an employee of a public safety agency posts or is depicted in such material. Because of the significant adverse effects public safety employees’ misuse of social media can have on them as witnesses, on agency operations, and on the department’s relationship with the community it serves, many police agencies have addressed their employees’ use of social media, whether proactively in the form of policy, reactively in the face of an incident, or both. A former chief of police in Smithfield, Virginia, and past president of the IACP stated, “This is something that all police chiefs around the country, if you’re not dealing with it, you better deal with it.”

See also: 2014 Social Media Survey (International Association of Chiefs of Police)
See also: Making Social Media Part of the Uniform: How policing solutions use #socialmedia to #buildcommunities and #fightcrime (PDF; International Association of Chiefs of Police)

FBI Releases Preliminary Semiannual Crime Statistics for 2014

January 28, 2015 Comments off

FBI Releases Preliminary Semiannual Crime Statistics for 2014
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Statistics released today in the FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report reveal overall declines in both the number of violent crimes and the number of property crimes reported for the first six months of 2014 when compared with figures for the first six months of 2013. The report is based on information from 11,009 law enforcement agencies that submitted three to six months of comparable data to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program for the first six months of 2013 and 2014.

Federal Justice Statistics, 2011–12

January 27, 2015 Comments off

Federal Justice Statistics, 2011–12
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Describes the annual activity, workloads, and outcomes associated with the federal criminal justice system from arrest to imprisonment, using data from the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA), Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AOUSC), and Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Tables and text describe arrests and investigations by law enforcement agency and growth rates by type of offense and federal judicial district. This report examines trends in drug arrests by the DEA. It also provides the number of offenders returning to federal prison within 3 years of release and includes the most recently available data on sentences imposed and their lengths by type of offense. See also Federal Justice Statistics, 2011 – Statistical Tables and Federal Justice Statistics, 2012 – Statistical Tables .

Highlights:

  • At yearend 2012, 414,065 persons were under some form of federal correctional control 62% were in confinement and 38% were under supervision in the community. „„
  • Fifteen percent of federal prisoners released in 2010 were returned to federal prison within 3 years. Over half (54%) were returned for supervision violations. „„
  • In 2012, five federal judicial districts along the U.S.-Mexico border accounted for 60% of federal arrests, 53% of suspects investigated, and 41% of offenders sentenced to prison. „„
  • In 2012, 3,171 suspects were arrested for a sex offense. Defendants convicted of a felony sex offense were the most likely (97%) to receive a prison sentence following conviction. „„
  • During 2012, 172,248 suspects were booked by the U.S. Marshals Service, a 2% decline from 179,034 booked in 2010. „„
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